Software Documentation

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Visual Descriptive Language (VDL)Documentation

Last updated: September 12, 2023

10 Specifying the height, duration, and fan angle of effects in the cake (HTM, DUR, Degrees)

NOTE: the easiest way to create a cake in Finale 3D is to lay out effects on the timeline, then select them, and then do the menu item, “Effects > Create cake from selected items…”, which will present a dialog showing the VDL that represents the cake.  The function automatically figures out the rows and firing patterns of the cake based on the spacing of the effects on the timeline (i.e., the delays between them) and their angles.  You can look at the VDL to understand the syntax.

Like all VDL descriptions, cake descriptions can specify a height and duration, as you can see are 100 meters and 10 seconds in the example,

50mm 10s 100 Shot 100m Fan Cake (a) Gold Tail + (b) Red Mine 10 Rows Row 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10 (ababababab)

For cakes, the duration is the duration of the cake itself (first ignition to last break, see Cake duration details), not the duration of the effects in the cake.  So you may be wondering how you can specify the durations of the individual effects within the cake.  The VDL term “DUR” is the answer.  If you want to specify the duration of the red stars to be 2.3 seconds in the above example, you can use the VDL,

50mm 10s 100 Shot 100m Fan Cake (a) Gold Tail + (b) 2.3 DUR Red Mine 10 Rows Row 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10 (ababababab)

Unlike the duration specified at the beginning of the effect description (10s), the DUR terms specify the durations of the effects used within the cake.  If a cake contains various effect descriptions separated by plus signs (+), each effect description can contain a DUR expression, which applies only to that specific effect within the cake.

A similar approach satisfies the need to specify heights of the individual effects in the cake, which is particularly important for cakes that combine multiple kinds of effects that have vastly different heights, like mines and comets.  Figure 1 shows a picture of a fan cake with mines and comets without any individual height specifications.  The height of the cake, 100m, applies to everything within the cake, which is too high for the mines.


Figure 1 – A cake VDL that doesn’t specify individual effect heights has the same height for everything.


The “HTM” term specifies the “height in meters” of an individual effect.  Similar to the DUR term, the cake VDL can contain an HTM specification for each effect description, separated by the plus signs.

50mm 10s 100 Shot 100m Fan Cake (a) Gold Tail + (b) 25 HTM Red Mine 10 Rows Row 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10 (ababababab)

This cake VDL looks a lot more accurate, as you can see in Figure 2.


Figure 2 – The HTM (“height in meters”) term in VDL specifies individual effect heights.


The fan angle of the cake is also controllable, using the term “Degrees” at the beginning of the cake description, as in,

50mm 10s 100 Shot 100m 130 Degrees Fan Cake (a) Gold Tail + (b) Red Mine 10 Rows Row 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10 (ababababab)

The fan angle applies to any rows in the fake that have angles.